Posts Tagged ‘Cocteau Twins’

Hammock From Abyss to Revelation.

January 6, 2014

Oblivion-cvrIn a world of dance beats, rapid fire sequences and songs devolving into little more than hooks, Hammock takes a deeper, darker more textured approach.  They are the Mark Rothko of ambient music with sheets of sound shifting beneath each other like tectonic plates, but with the hint of melody and the feel of spirits rising toward the heavens. Oblivion Hymns lives up to its foreboding name in this extended tone poem to the end of life.

Hammock is operating in a classical dimension. The references to Arvo Pärt are obvious, but you might find their tone more heavily reflected in the “sacred minimalism” of the recently departed English composer, John Tavener. Inspired by the Russian Orthodox Church, Tavener’s music aspired to the heavens through the use of orchestras and choirs.  Hammock’s Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson achieve the same effect with Dali-stretched guitars and whole-note string pads, moving slowly through a shrouded landscape.

Darkness is only a superficial impression of Oblivion Hymns . Within their circumscribed sound world, Hammock creates uplifting, moving themes that are more edge-of-the-world than end-of-the-world.  Children’s choirs are deployed on a couple of tracks, notably on the gentle lament, “Then the Quiet Explosion” and “I Could Hear the Water at the Edge of All Things”

Depature SongsThis is a follow-up to their 2012 opus, Departure Songs.  That was a monumental album, but could become oppressive over the course of its two CD length.  Maybe because of the children’s choir, Oblivion Hymns feels more hopeful, promising transcendence more than demise.

Hammock’s heavily processed guitar sound remains at the center of their music, but when an instrument like the piano turns up on “Holding Your Absence,” with spare, pensive chords it seems to wrap their ambient electric swirl around it, pulling all the elements together.

The cover of Oblivion Hymns is a Rorschach of ink blots by Amy Pleasant, and like the cover, you can read many things into Hammock’s music.  You might find yourself descending into the abyss, or after hearing the concluding vocal hymn, “Tres Domines,” sung by Timothy Showalter, you might see heaven’s gate.  But I keep finding myself rising up, floating through a celestial expanse, which might be the same thing.

With Oblivion Hymns Hammock’s Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson have created a magnificent and important work that will become a reference point for those working in ambient classical and post-rock modalities, and those looking for music that takes us beyond.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

Oblivion-cvrJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Hammock’s Oblivion Hymns is our January   CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

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THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

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Pure Bathing Culture in Echoes Podcast

January 2, 2014

MoonTidesPortland’s Pure Bathing Culture Talks Art-Rock, Jazz and Dream-pop in the Echoes Podcast.

Whatever you call them, don’t call them Dream Pop.   But if you do, you’ll hear a sound to which most dream pop bands could aspire with Pure Bathing Culture.  They are a duo of singer and keyboardist Sarah Versprille and guitarist Daniel Hindman who emerged out of the alt-folk group, Vetiver.  On their debut album, Moon Tides they merge 60s girl group harmonies with 80s electro-pop in a music of deliriously joyful melodies, even when they’re singing about break-ups.

Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture on Echoes

Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture on Echoes

You can’t hear the voices of most dream pop singers two  inches beyond the microphone, but Versprille has a more powerful voice because she listened to Ella Fitzgerald as much as Elizabeth Frazer. Hindman elicits a gorgeous tone from his processed electric guitar and cites a fairly obscure influence, Vini Reilly and The Durutti Column.  (I’m still waiting for the Vini Reilly revival foretold by God in 24 Hour Party People.). Get in on the ground floor and find out about Pure Bathing Culture when they talk about their music in Echoes Podcast

FoundJoin the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  David Helping and Jon Jenkins’ Found is our December  CD of the Month.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.   You can do it all right here.

OR

LRC19-250pxPikc Up  TRANSMISSIONS:
THE ECHOES LIVING ROOM CONCERTS VOLUME 19

Join us on Facebook where you’ll get all the Echoes news so you won’t be left behind when Dead Can Dance appear on the show, Tangerine Dream tours or Brian Eno drops a new iPad album. Or Follow us on Twitter@echoesradio.

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

Pure Bathing Culture Interview on Echoes.

November 26, 2013

MoonTidesPortland’s Pure Bathing Culture Talks Art-Rock, Jazz and Dream-pop on Echoes Tonight.

Whatever you call them, don’t call them Dream Pop.   But if you do, you’ll hear a sound to which most dream pop bands could aspire with Pure Bathing Culture.  They are a duo of singer and keyboardist Sarah Versprille and guitarist Daniel Hindman who emerged out of the alt-folk group, Vetiver.  On their debut album, Moon Tides they merge 60s girl group harmonies with 80s electro-pop in a music of deliriously joyful melodies, even when they’re singing about break-ups.

Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture on Echoes

Sarah Versprille of Pure Bathing Culture on Echoes

You can’t hear the voices of most dream pop singers two  inches beyond the microphone, but Versprille has a more powerful voice because she listened to Ella Fitzgerald as much as Elizabeth Frazer. Hindman elicits a gorgeous tone from his processed electric guitar and cites a fairly obscure influence, Vini Reilly and The Durutti Column.  (I’m still waiting for the Vini Reilly revival foretold by God in 24 Hour Party People.). Get in on the ground floor and find out about Pure Bathing Culture when they talk about their music tonight on Echoes.

John Diliberto (((echoes)))

ECHOES CD OF THE MONTH CLUB SPECIAL

InnocentsNew members of the Echoes CD of the Month Club will get Moby’s Innocents album, our November CD of the Month and a BONUS CD of Bombay Dub Orchestra’s Tales from the Grand Bazaar.  You’ll get great CDs and help support Echoes at the same time.  You’ll also get the new Echoes CD, Transmissions: The Echoes Living Room Concerts V19, You can do it all right here.
TalesEchoes On Line

Now you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line. Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

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Shoegaze Ambience with Manual – Echoes Podcast

December 7, 2012

Interview with Jonas Munk a.k.a Manual in Echoes Podcast

Azure VistaIn the early 2000’s a new sound in electronic music emerged.  It mixed German Space and Progressive Rock, with Shoegaze guitar and contemporary Electronica.  Two of the leading lights in this sound were Manual and Ulrich Schnauss.  Manual is Danish musician Jonas Munk and he’s carved a unique path into modern electronic space. He’s released several albums ranging from drone zone spaces to anthemic electronic flights.

Just nudging into his 30s, Munk’s musical sources come from a time before he was born.  He cites German electronic music like Cluster and Kraftwerk.

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“In German electronic music from the ’70s, there was a more organic vibe present,” enthuses Munk, speaking from his home in Denmark. “Cosmic is a bit overused, but there was involvement with nature somehow, which I kind of liked.  There  was also a very warm feeling in a lot of those recordings by Harmonia,  Cluster or early Kraftwerk and all their stuff.  It’s very, very warm and organic sounding, which is something that always turns me on.”

Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk

Ulrich Schnauss & Jonas Munk

Jonas Munk merges that sound with the Shoegaze style of Rock that spawned in the 1980s with groups like Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine and especially, the Cocteau Twins with guitarist Robin Guthrie.  As a guitarist himself, Munk gravitated towards the ringing, layered and reverb drench sound of these groups.

Awash“Especially around that time,” he explains. “Ascend, Lost Days, Azure Vista [Manual albums], all the stuff that was composed between 2002 and 2006, 07, 08’ish, it’s very inspired by Robin Guthrie’s guitar work, but also the Cocteau Twins productions.

He’d go on to collaborate with Robin Guthrie and cover a song by Slowdive called “Blue Skied An’ Clear.”

Hear more of Jonas Munk’s interview on the Echoes Podcast.

Don’t forget to vote in The Best of Echoes 2012 Poll.

John Diliberto

Echoes On LineIf you love Manual then you’ll love Hammock.  Sign up for the Echoes CD of the Month Club now and receive the December CD pick, Hammock’s Departure Songs. With the Echoes CD of the Month Club, you get great CDs like this coming to you each month.  Follow the link to the Echoes CD of the Month Club  and see what you’ve been missing.

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It’s Christmas. Projekt Gets Ornamental.

September 18, 2012

Various Artists – Ornamental (A Projekt Holiday Collection)

I just got in my first Christmas album of the season and the tree-topper has been set high with Ornamental, a collection from the Projekt label.  Best known for their dark ambient and Goth recordings, as well as great electronic releases from Steve Roach and Erik Wollo, this is their latest incursion on holiday music.  They had previously released a series called Excelsis, of which the first, A Dark Noel, remains among the most distinctive and haunting seasonal albums ever.   With Ornamental, Projekt expands their seasonal pallet in a double CD that ranges from electronica to goth, space music to shoegaze, medieval to mystical.

It launches with the corniest Christmas tune possible, “Frosty the Snowman,” but Paulina Cassidy turns it into snow shrouded  electronica dream.  It makes a perfect entry into the vertiginous holiday soundscape of Ornamental,  although she’s a little less successful on her other two entries.

Anji Bee & Ryan Lum of LoveSpirals

There are a lot of post-Cocteau Twins shoegazer ruminations on the album.  Autumn’s Grey Solace swirls sparkling snow flurries around “Through the Snowy Trees” and Ashkelon Sain & the Dorian Fields turn “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” into a moody  My Bloody Valentine-like ode to a bleak winter.  Unto Ashes delivers their post-Cocteau Twin’s sound upon “King of Frost” sounding like medieval shoegaze troubadours.  LoveSpirals, who had a couple of my favorite Excelsis songs, (“Welcome Christmas” in their Love Spirals Downwards edition and “Aspen Glow” as LoveSpirals) return with another evocative seasonal song, an original called “Happy Holidays” featuring Anji Bee, who sings it with sophisticated élan,  like she’s casting knowing glances over her shoulder against Ryan Lum’s chiming guitars.

The two discs of Ornamental are divided into the “Traditionals” and the “Non-Traditionals.”  The Non-Traditional disc opens with a song from the score of the ultimate Christmas album for hipsters, the “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” soundtrack.  But Ornamental goes deeper than the oft-covered title track and play “Forbidden Colours,” composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto and  David Sylvian.  Black Tape for a Blue Girl, the band headed by Projekt label head Sam Rosenthal, delivers it with their usual funereal, vampire dirge.

Some don’t make it.  Maroulis, Koehn and Mooney’s “Ave Maria” is ponderous gothic chant; Ego Likeness’ “What Child Is this” is clichéd goth spookiness; and The Last Duchess’s “Cradle Song” is a lot of echo and reverb signifying nothing. But there’s also the contrast of All My Faith’s Lost delicate, folk reading of “In the Bleak Midwinter” with KatzKab who take “My Sad Wishlist” on a girl-group romp somewhere between the Shangri-Las and The Waitresses.

Erik Wøllo in Echoes Living Room

Norwegian synth-guitarist Erik Wøllo pretty much drips icicles on almost anything he’s recorded over the last 3 decades.  Whenever he comes through Echoes, we always try to get a seasonal set out of him and he graciously obliges.  He does it here with a pair of sparkling “Crystal Bell’s that close Ornamental in a meditative fashion.

I’ve been begging for musicians to create a different kind of seasonal music besides the rote rendering of the same 25 or so holiday chestnuts over-roasted on an open fire.  Projekt has been fulfilling that since 1995 with ExcelsisOrnamental takes them in a slightly less gothic and doom-laden mode and makes it a likely pick for the best seasonal CD of 2012, if your tastes in seasonal music heads towards the abyss.

~© 2012 John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Echoes On LineNow you can go Mobile with Echoes On-Line.  Find out how you can listen to Echoes 24/7 wherever you are on your iPhone, iPad or Droid.

You get great CDs like Dead Can Dance’s  Anastasis  by becoming a member of the Echoes CD of the Month Club.  Follow the link and see what you’ve been missing.

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Robin Guthrie’s Carousel: Echoes Nov. CD of the Month

October 28, 2009

1980s Shoegaze Guitar Icon Unfolds an Instrumental Opus

You can hear an Audio version of this blog with Robin Guthrie’s music.

You can read a complete review of Carousel here.

Guthrie-CarouselAs a member of the legendary new wave band, the Cocteau Twins, Robin Guthrie established a guitar sound that is still being imitated today from bands like My Bloody Valentine to electronic artists like Ulrich Schnauss.  It sounds like it results from stacks of processors and computer programs, but sitting in his home in France, Guthrie says,  in his thick Scottish accent, that it’s much simpler than that.

Robin Guthrie: Well, I know that I can pick up pretty much any old guitar and plug it into you know, an overdrive, a chorus, and a delay and I can make it sound like me.

Since the Cocteau Twins broke up in 1998, Robin Guthrie has released a string of instrumental albums propelled by his ringing, melancholy themes and deep atmospheres.  His music is at once modern and nostalgic with tracks like “Sparkle” calling up the sound of 60s guitar bands like The Shadows.

He’s also been a busy collaborator. In the last two years, Robin Guthrie has put out albums with former Ultravox singer John Foxx and several works with keyboardist Harold Budd, including the acclaimed diptych, After the Night Falls and Before the Day Breaks (CD of the Month picks in June, 2007).  His new album, Carousel, is a bit different.

Robin Guthrie: I kind of thought that I’ve done a couple of down tempo things recently with Harold and stuff and I wanted to, you know,  put a little bit of bones into it and make it a little bit noisier than just having a real soft floaty thing.

Robin Guthrie is one of the significant guitar stylists of the last 30 years.  He’s not a flash player, ripping pyrotechnic leads and guitar shredding distortion.  Instead, his sound is an electric orchestra, layering shadings, harmonies, and melodies within melodies that unfold across his compositions.

He can get a bit frustrated by the historical baggage of the Cocteau Twins.  There are even Cocteau Twins festivals that are like Star Trek conventions.  Guthrie doesn’t go.

Robin Guthrie (unexpurgated): I’m 47 years old and I’m still living with this fucking ex-Cocteau Twins bracket fucking everywhere I look.  Quite honestly, it’s starting to piss me off, you know?  It’s so fucking disrespectful.  No, it’s really quite rude of people to just continue to do that instead of actually paying a little attention to what I’ve actually been doing in the last 12 years or whatever.

If they were paying attention, they would’ve heard a string of often transformative recordings that alter the room around you,  painting a new world from the inside out, all of it colored in the translucent shades of Robin Guthrie’s guitar.

Robin Guthrie’s new CD is called Carousel.  It’s out on Darla Records and it’s the Echoes CD of the Month for November. I’ll be featuring it on Monday’s show 11/2/09.  This has been an Echo Location, Soundings for New Music.  You can read a complete review of Carousel here.   You can also hear an Audio version of this blog with Robin Guthrie’s music

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John Diliberto ((( echoes )))


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